I felt this response to a colleague would be relevant here…
With email, discussion groups, blogs, etc., the interest in writing (albeit bad writing) is coming back. And as you mention, the importance attached to "good" writing needs to be emphasized. Perhaps one of the new roles of teachers, is back to basics – ie. reading, writing.
Initially, I thouhgt it would bve very imporatnat to respond to this post, but I realize now that you’ev actually captured much of what I meant to say. Our computer using students are writing all the time… for email, instant messaging, blogging, etc… and much of the higher order thinking that is happening is exactly what teachers have been struggling to coax out of students writing a five paragraph essay for years… in terms of the analysis, evaluation, and synthesis. I think this is a wonderful thing. These new forms of writing encourage many students to compose, and reflect, on a daily basis. Most are very concerned about their tone, syntax, and the effect their writing will have on its audience…. they are just not writing for us.
They are developing new vocabulary and new grammar at a rapid rate. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, and I see now that you’ve put "good" in quotes, so you too realize that we are only concerned because they are not following the same formal rules that we were taught. (Then again, maybe you didn’t… since you didn’t but "bad" in quotes) These rules have always changed over time, they may just be changing more fluidly now than they did a generation ago. Consider the differences between our writing and our parents… or our founding fathers, for instance.
In my estimation, as a former English Teacher, the writing that they are doing is more valuable in more important ways that much of the writing they are doing in school, which is not to say that I think there is no value in their formal writing assignments, but rather that I am not concerned. I am excited about their new forms of writing… and further, if our formal standards change (and there have been some I have actively sought to change), I won’t be terribly upset.
Well, not yet… I suppose once I have my own children and grand children this may change.